FRUITFUL MENU OPPORTUNITIES. Mintel International research analyst David Morris presenting the results of a new consumer survey studying fresh fruit and menus.
Breakfast, dessert and other foodservice meal and dayparts are under-penetrated when their menus are evaluated in the context of consumer interest in seeing more fruit options in their menu choices, according to new research conducted by the Mintel International Group.
According to David Morris, a research analyst for Mintel, quickservice style operations and those with breakfast tra~ c in particular have an opportunity to menu fruit and fruit ingredients more e˚ectively. One benefit is that it improves overall customer perceptions of the healthfulness of their menus; other advantages include making those meals more appealing to women, parents looking to purchase meals for children and consumers who want to feel that they are "doing the right thing" in their dining habits.
"Consumers want to see more fresh ingredients and fruit variety registers positively among a majority of respondents," says Morris. "More than half say they enjoy eating fruit in its natural, unadulterated state; almost four in 10 enjoy eating fruit as an ingredient in a meal; and more than six in 10 say they enjoy eating it as an ingredient in a dessert."
˝e idea that mixed fruit is more nutritious that single fruit choices—a fact borne out by scientific studies—is another growing customer perception and o˚ers additional marketing opportunities, Morris adds.
Service stations that let a fruit side dish be customized based on a diner's made-to-order choices "is as close to a home run as a survey can provide," Morris notes.
"More than three in four respondents say they would be interested in such a side dish." Women in particular are interested in customized fruit dishes, he said.
For those in a full service or catered meal situation, Morris said the research suggested consumers also would welcome small fruit dishes as "palate cleansers" between courses or a dessert sweetened with fruit or fruit juice instead of sugar.
In other observations, Morris noted that Hispanic consumers are significantly frequent consumers of 13 of the 18 fruits identified in the survey. "The five fruits in which there was no significant difference were all mainstream fruits: apples, pineapples, peaches, bananas and mixed fruit."
"It is also interesting to note that Hispanics are not necessarily more frequent consumers of fruits grown in warmer climates, as one might assume," he added. "While Hispanics are more frequent consumers of tropical fruits like guava, mango , and papaya, they are also more frequent consumers of fruits typically grown in cooler climates, like dark berries."
In a similar vein, he said the research shows that women are more likely to respond positively to almost all healthrelated messages, but are more likely to do so in some cases than others.
Women are much more likely than men to say they would order menu items labeled as "heart healthy" or "low carb" and more likely than men to want healthy menu options as entrees and sides (as compared to other menu options).
Summaries of the full study are available from Dole Packaged Foods, which originally commissioned the Mintel research. To obtain a copy, go to www.dolefoodservice.com and look under "brochures and sellsheets."